Beware–child rapist may not be a stranger

As parents, our number one job is to protect our children. We think we hit all the bases to teach our children what to do to avoid being violated or attacked.

We start at a young age, teaching Stranger Danger! We say, “Scream! Bite! Kick! Run! Walk in groups when you go somewhere. Don’t go out after dark alone or in a neighborhood you don’t know. Be aware of your surroundings at all times!”

But sadly the one thing often overlooked is the one thing we never should have to say.  Beware of people you know and love because sometimes they aren’t who you think they are.

Some startling statistics from RAINN, the Rape, Assault Incest website at http://www.rainn.org/get-information/statistics/sexual-assault-victims:

  • Every two minutes someone in the United States is sexually assaulted
  •  15% of sexual assault and rape victims are under age 12
  • Nearly 30% of child victims were between the age of 4 and 7
  • 93% of juvenile sexual assault victims know their attacker
  • 34.2% of attackers were family members.
  • 58.7% were acquaintances.
  • Only 7% of the perpetrators were strangers to the victim

Homes are violated every day, not by a criminal or someone off the street.  No, even worse—parents, siblings or family friends, attack and rape children in their own home. Now, not only are the streets unsafe, but the one safe haven children thought they had is no longer safe.

Violated and alone, a child often will not tell their parents or loved ones when the incident happens. Sometimes it will be weeks, months or even years before the child is finally able to find the courage to step up and ask for help.

Rarely is it a matter of trust.  More often, it’s a matter of fear. Fear of the person who assaulted them, fear of being called a liar, or fear of making people mad. Often even of making the person who assaulted them angry. After all, it was a family friend or perhaps another family member, someone the child believes their parents trust.  It is all too easy for the child and the perpetrator to turn the incident around to place all of the guilt on the child. Guilt, fear and secrecy may give the perpetrator the power to continue the abuse.

Aided by the power of the cycle of fear, guilt and violence, sixty percent of sexual assaults will go unreported to the police and ninety-seven percent of rapists will never spend a day in jail.

Is it inconceivable then that rape and/or assault victims often do not get the help they need to work through the problems caused from the crime? If you know someone who has been a victim of a violent crime, or assault or rape, the most important thing you can do for them is to listen and believe them. If they are ready for counseling, help them find a reputable counselor. If there are not ready for face to face counseling, another alternative is a rape crisis hotline. You can find one through your local phone book, domestic violence hotline or from a counseling center.

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